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Wild with Sarah Wilson

HOLDEN KARNOFSKY: The most important century is now. Blimey

Ep. 73

This episode continues the fascinating-slash-frightening journey I’ve been on with you, to understand what we should prioritise as we face potential existential end times. Today’s guest, Harvard researcher and philanthropist Holden Karnofsky, brings the AI, effective altruism, longtermism and anti-growth debates together with the clarion call: “This is our moment, this century is make-or-break, pay attention people!” It’s not an idle or hysterical call, it’s one that Holden has researched extensively and is backed by global leaders in the space. 


As some background: Holden founded Givewell, the charity evaluator that has raised more than $US1billion for charities that have saved more than 150,000 lives (Bill Gates, Sam Harris and the now disgraced billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried use it) and Open Philanthropy investigates more speculative causes. So if this is the most important century, what does it mean for us? What are our responsibilities? What’s going to happen? Buckle up, says Holden, because, “we live in wild times and should be ready for anything to happen”. 


Here’s the "most important century" blog post series we talk about.

I also flag Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro. As well as this Vice article about how scientists can’t explain how AI works.


You might also want to go back and listen to the episodes with Peter Singer on effective altruism, Will Macaskill on Longtermism and Elise Bohan on misaligned AI and transhumanism.

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If you need to know a bit more about me… head to my "about" page. 

Subscribe to my Substack newsletter for more such conversation. 

Get your copy of my book, This One Wild and Precious Life 

Let’s connect on Instagram! It’s where I interact the most.

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